by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
In last week’s episode of Chicago Med (Season 2, Episode 21), Dr. Charles cannot separate his personal and professional roles. When his daughter (an epidemiologist in the hospital) is being evaluated by his resident, Dr. Charles is concerned that no one can evaluate his daughter as well as he can. Rather than trusting his resident and the system, he interferes at every step. First, he arranges to have his resident (rather than someone else’s) evaluate his daughter. Second, he logs onto the electronic medical record to look at the notes on his daughter’s case. Third, he consistently asks his resident questions about the case. Fourth, he steals his daughter’s keys and visits her home where he finds strong evidence of her psychological disorder. Fifth, he arranges an involuntary commitment for his daughter and watches as the guards catch her and take her to the inpatient psychiatric ward.
There are two major problems in this storyline. Consider first that Dr. Charles not only tries to diagnose but actually prescribes treatment (in the form of involuntary commitment) for his daughter. There is a reason that physicians are not supposed to treat their patients including loss of objectivity and clinical gaze. The results are seen in this episode when we learn that the resident was giving Dr. Charles (the daughter) the night to consider whether she wanted to voluntarily commit herself. By usurping the plan of his resident, Dr. Charles (senior) destroys trust between the patient and his resident; between himself and his daughter; and between himself and his resident.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.